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Ken Myers

Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

Recent Posts

10 Ways to Sneak Spinach into Your Child's Food

Spinach is one of the most potent greens when it comes to overall health and vitamin support. While its raw form can be healthy in its own right, the boiled and cooked versions of the leafy green provide an incredible amount of nutritional value. Unfortunately, it could be incredibly difficult to feed the much-needed veggies to the children. After all, boiled spinach doesn't look all that appetizing. What are ways you can incorporate spinach into daily meals without forcing your child to eat it?

10 ways to sneak spinach into your child's foodAs a reader of this blog, you know NFI takes health and diet seriously. Christopher Brown recently wrote a post called Your Children are What YOU Eat. Us dads need to be intentional about being an example to our children when it comes to diet. For fatherhood leaders, you can not only use these tips in your own life, but be sure to share these tips with the dads you serve. 

1. Salads - Spinach can be added to salads quite easily without making the experience distasteful for the children. Even replacing half of the lettuce with spinach can help your children obtain more vitamins and minerals than by eating it without. Adding grilled chicken, onions and mushrooms to the mix can make an incredibly healthy, and tasty meal.

2. Smoothies - Armed with a good blender, you can make fruity smoothies with a bit of spinach added in order to make a good summer drink. Mixing fruits such as blueberries can help hide the spinach for children who don't like the "look" of certain foods. Make them in the privacy of your kitchen and the children will never know that they are drinking some of the healthiest beverages you can develop.

3. Lasagna - Depending on the recipe, you may already be incorporating spinach in your lasagna. If not, a few cups of chopped spinach gently added to a layer or two can provide a bit of additional nutrition to the dish.

4. Spinach Cake - While the children may not eat a glop of boiled spinach, a great deal of fun can be had by eating a green cake. Blending the leafy green and adding it to your recipe could provide a great way to encourage your children to eat healthier. Of course the sugars in the frosting may not be as healthy as you'd like, but at least the children are eating the spinach.

5. Soups - By finely grinding the spinach, you can add a bit of it to soups to give it more health appeal while making it look like ordinary chives and such. This can be a great addition to homemade turkey noodle soup after Thanksgiving.

6. Egg Rolls - While spring egg rolls can be delicious themselves, using spinach in your chicken or pork recipes can add more health appeal. Chopped spinach lining the egg roll prior to add the rest of the components can provide a way for the children to eat it without realizing what is actually within.

7. Quiche - The overall development of a good quiche can hide all kinds of nutritional foods without the child suspecting spinach is involved. While some use bacon, others will add extra cheese in the development of the dish in order to help hide the fact that spinach is within the meal.

8. Macaroni and Cheese - Using rotini noodles and a homemade cheese sauce, you can add a bit of spinach into this dish with the children being overly concerned. A few chopped pieces of bacon and almost any child will be hooked on this healthy side or meal. Some parents will use garden rotini as one-third of the noodles are green anyway.

9. Chicken Pasta - Using garden rotini again, you can add chopped spinach in with diced tomatoes while mixing in chicken and a garlic marinade to provide a meal that is good hot or cold. The garlic marinade can easily hide a lot of the taste of spinach from the children.

10. Mashed Potatoes - Some parents have had good luck using chopped spinach in a cheesy garlic mashed potatoes recipe. This combines two foods that children seem to love: cheese and mashed potatoes. The added spinach will barely be noticeable as the children are more focused on the cheesy side of the dish.

Providing a nutritional option for children can help them develop physically and mentally. The more intentional you are about child's health, the more healthy they will be. Start by encouraging your children to eat more vegetables and fruits daily. Sneak the veggies in if you have too!

Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

image: iStockPhoto

Interacting with Your Tween or Teen: Rational Communication Trumps a Lecture

Almost every parent has experienced the glossy-eyed look teens and tweens give when he or she is getting lectured. While some of the words you are saying may sink into their heads, it's more likely that the child is thinking of other things such as a favorite video game or the new girl or boy in school. It's because you are providing a speech that the child simply finds boring.

Instead of giving a lecture about rules or behaviors, engage the child in rational communication. I say "rational" because you need to have a calm disposition instead of being driven by anger or frustration. By everyone taking a few moments to catch a breath, a more meaningful and productive communication can be achieved. How do you engage a child to communicate rather than standing on your soapbox and wagging a finger?

how to really communicate with your teenInteraction - Communication is a two-way street. You need to know what your child is thinking about the topic in order to know he or she is actually paying attention. By offering a way for children to answer questions or interact within the topic, you are forcing them to think about the subject in order to formulate a response. If he or she is thinking about the material, there is a greater chance that it will become more permanent instead of flowing in through one ear and out the other.

Yes, No and I Don't Know - Instead of asking questions of your children that can be answered with "yes" and "no," ask questions that rely more on a tangible answer. It's too easy to force out a quick one word response to a question. However, it makes the brain work if you ask a question where the answer can be a short sentence or two. As we wrote recently in another blog post titled, What Really Matters to Your Child's Success in School, teaching your child to ask critical questions to you and others is a learned skill and will help your child learn that he or she can challenge others (and think), respectfully, for themselves. If your child falls back on the "I don't know" response, then you need to try harder to ask a question that requires deeper thought. Your child's mind is like a combination lock; you need to keep spinning the dial in order to get it to open up.

Privacy - Depending on the situation, a teen can feel ultimately more comfortable if other family members or friends are not around. Essentially, you could take your teen to a park and have a discussion about any topic, at which point he or she would feel more comfortable than speaking in front of relatives. It's a matter of embarrassing the child and he or she needs to feel safe that they can open up without being gawked at. Make it a private bonding moment that you and your child share that is your own. For instance, you could take your teen to the park with a couple of sodas once per week to discuss anything he or she wants. 

Emotional Status - As mentioned earlier, the emotional status of the parties involved will make a profound impact in how well the communication will unfold. There can be no anger between you and each party must be relaxed in order to think rationally. Depending on the situation, this could take anywhere from an hour to a couple of days. However, the effect on the communication will be more than worth the wait.

When you and the child begin yelling at each other, the communication is over. It turns into a shouting match of each one trying to hurt the other. When the situation escalates to such degrees, then there is no benefit with continuing the discussion. Take a few deep breaths and approach the subject again when you and the child have had a chance to calm down and think about the problem.

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